A Revamped Freebie Planter

Anyone else amazed that it’s already May?  We’re just flying through this year, but at least it’s almost time to start planting and getting our yard ready for the summer season.  Here in Alaska the temps are still pretty chilly overnight so I don’t dare plant anything outside just yet, but that doesn’t mean I have to sit around and wait.  I’ve been cleaning up the flower beds, looking for signs  of life from my perennials and getting my plan for where things will go together.  That plan includes a few new pieces like this freebie planter I got from someone I bought another item from.  They were moving out of state and were purging items so she said just take all the pots and planters on the porch too!  I was all too happy to help!

The other pots in the freebie group didn’t really suit my style so I grouped them with other pots I no longer needed and traded them on the buy/sell page as part of a deal for another item I’ll share on the blog soon.  But I had a plan for this little gem.  While the bright orange was cheerful it needed a new coat of paint and I knew it would have a classic farmhouse style if I painted it ORB.  So the first sunny day I had time I drug her out in to the driveway and sprayed away.  Here’s how she looked after!

Luckily I’d been hoarding saving a large planter liner for quite some time and it was a perfect fit!  Since I already had the spray paint and liner the only cost I had for this project was the plants I’ll be putting in it!

Now she’s all ready for summer in the front flower bed.  I’ve got two Bacopa set aside just for her.  She also hides the cord that comes out of the garage wall in this corner – which will all but disappear once the plants start to grow and trail over her edges.   One planter down, and a few more to go before the weather cooperates and it’s time to plant! 🙂

Shared on Savvy Southern Style’s Wow Us Wednesdays and Knick of Time’s Talk of the Town.

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Getting the Green House Ready

As I promised last week I’m sharing a little update on the progress we’ve made in getting the green house ready for the season.  But before we get to the progress, let’s take a look at how things looked when we started.  Since the Hubs finished the structure as fall arrived last year we used the space for storage of all my pots and planters, along with some of the patio furniture and accessories.  We’ll call it organized chaos.

Luna decided to join me in the greenhouse as I started clearing it out.  She seemed to appreciate the warm cozy temps inside and made herself quite comfortable.

While Luna took in the warmth I harvested the dried blooms from the lavender I’d stashed away in the fall.  It was a decent little harvest, which I used to give the chicken’s nesting boxes a bit of freshness.

After that I made Luna move off the table so I could drag it out to the deck.  When I returned she had found a new favorite spot in one of the planter boxes.  I let her be as I sorted and dug out everything else to make room for the new set-up.

We purchased large plastic totes to serve as our planters in the greenhouse.  I filled the bottoms of each with plastic containers from our recycle bin – plus a few from the coffee shop at work – to help fill some of the space to reduce the amount of soil I had to use and provide space at the bottom of the containers where moisture could settle and then be wicked back up.  There are no drainage holes in the bottoms of the totes as that would become quite messy on the floor of the green house so I’ll have to water carefully.

And here’s where things are now.  We’ve got four totes down each side which sit on plant dollies so they can be moved easily, allowing me to work on the plants from all sides – a feature that might come in handy during harvest.  On the left side I brought in the two rusty bed frames I’d used as trellises in the wheel bed last season.  They worked well for the peas in the wheel bed, but this time one will be for green beans and the other will support cucumbers.  The tote in the back corner will be for dill and the one in the front corner will be for peppers.  The Hubs plans to secure them to the wall just to be on the safe side.  This side of the green house will also get vertical strawberry planters in each corner to maximize the space.

The right side has a shelf where the Hubs will be setting up a hyponic system for the buckets you see there.  Those will hold 4 varieties of tomatoes and a squash.  Below them will be yellow and red onions, asparagus and peas, which will get a smaller DIY trellis to climb.

In the back I added a large galvanized trash can under the window to hold extra dirt and the Hubs installed a wire shelf above it to serve as a potting bench.  That way when I’m preparing pots for the deck and porch if I spill it can fall right back into the dirt bin.  Plus the way he installed it I can lift it up against the window if I want it out of the way for any reason.  The ledge created by the wall framing was the perfect spot to store all my garden decor over the winter.  Once the yard finishes thawing out I’ll be moving those items out to their ‘summer homes’ and that space can hold any extra pots awaiting occupants.  My hand tools will be kept in the small tub you see on the shelf, which will be filled with sand to keep everything sharp – an idea I found on Pinterest of course.

It’s still getting pretty cold overnight so I haven’t put any plants out in the green house just yet, but I have purchased the first round of veggies and a couple of flowers which are pretty happy in the laundry room sink and on the kitchen counter for now.  I’ll be going to the big annual season kick-off sale at my favorite nursery this weekend to buy the rest of my stock and will test out a DIY trick I learned on the local garden club page to heat the green house up a bit at night to make sure it’s ready for planting.

I’ve also got a few things planned for just outside the green house, including moving the gutters I used last year for strawberries and potato towers, but I’ll share those once we get things set up a bit more.  It’s going to be a lot of work but if it all goes well we’ll have a great crop of fresh food because of it!  I’m so excited to see what works and what we can improve for next year.  If you have ideas, tips or suggestions on what might be an improvement please share them below and I’ll try to test them out this year.

Shared on Savvy Southern Style’s Wow Us Wednesdays and Knick of Time’s Talk of the Town.

Big Plans for the Coop!

Hi there!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks around the DBDT household.  I had to travel around the state last week for my day job and have been playing catch up ever since.  Luckily the weather is finally turning warmer and the snow is melting, so the Hubs and I have been working on cleaning out the greenhouse and getting it set up for it’s first season!  I’ll share an update on that project soon.  The other big project on my radar at the moment is the chicken coop.

The Hubs added the roof to the chicken yard in the fall, which was a great improvement over the thin netting we had originally.  The new metal paneling has held up well over the winter.   Because it’s open panels allow the snow to fall through we had to shovel out their yard a couple of times during the snowy season and now that things are melting it’s getting pretty soggy in there.  Unfortunately there’s not much drainage in this spot so I’m planning to till up the ground and add in some gravel or sand to help with that for future seasons.

Last summer I added the cinder blocks along the edge of the yard as planters.  The canvas curtains I made to keep the cluckers from demolishing the plants didn’t work as well as I hoped, so I’ve tossed them and will be getting some clear acrylic panels that can slide into the space between the blocks and the metal fence panels.

That will keep the sight lines open for both the chickens and the dogs, but they can be easily removed when I want to give the cluckers access to the greens I’ll be growing in the blocks for them.  I gave up on having flowers here and late last season planted grass seed in the blocks along the side of the yard instead.  I’ll plant lavender and mint along the front blocks since those are more protected by the hen house wall.  Hopefully those aromas will help keep things smelling fresh on this side of the yard and provide herbs to freshen their bedding too.

I’d like to make some kind of hanging pocket planters for each of the posts down the side of the yard where I could have some trailing flowers.  The cluckers won’t be able to get to the plants that high up and it would help make things a little prettier.  I’m also thinking about making some kind of hanging planter for the wall at the back of the run since it’s a big open space there.

Of course the big to-do with the chicken yard is installing a gravel walkway from the deck steps to the coop and then over to the gate on the side of the house.  I’ve got lawn edging that we picked up last year that should be enough to do this distance, but I’ll have to wait for the ground to dry out so we can get the wheelbarrows of gravel back here.

Another functional improvement is to level out the area in front of the run’s door and add pavers in that corner to help with the mud that develops there.  Luckily I have pavers I picked up last season to get that project started as soon as the ground allows.

I also plan to do a few simple updates like adding a tire under the hen house with sand for the cluckers to use for dirt baths.  That should keep them from making holes in their yard for that purpose.  I’ll add a few stumps in the yard and some branches across the back corner for them to roost on and have a spot to get up a bit higher and see the surrounding area.  I’d like to dress up the storage cabinet and side of the hen house a bit with some trim to give it a more finished farmhouse style look and am considering adding metal to the cabinet roof so it matches the run and helps the cabinet last a bit longer.  And if I get time to get really fancy this might be the season I get a sign made for the coop!

I considered adding a compost area in the yard so the ladies can help break down the materials, but I can’t seem to find a plan that works in the space we have so I’m currently planning to have a compost tumbler behind the green house instead so it’s convenient to dump kitchen scraps the chickens won’t eat and their coop bedding.

I’m hoping to start some of these tasks this weekend if the weather continues to cooperate so stay tuned for an update post!

DIY Product Packaging

As a small business owner, I’m always looking for ways to give my customers a great end product without added expense to my bottom line.  I know many other small business owners have a similar need so I thought I’d share update I recently made to my packaging.

I’ve always provided my photography customers with digital images rather than prints.  When I first started out the media of choice was CDs, so I found a free template online and altered it to fit my needs so I could print covers for the jewel cases I put the CDs in.  My customers really liked this packaging and it was fairly low cost for me, especially when I shopped sales or used coupons for the CDs and cases since I could print the cover on my home printer.

Soon CD’s gave way to USBs as the preferred media.  I would have loved to order custom USBs with my logo on them, but that would have required me to raise my rates to cover the huge expense.  Since I like to work with DIY clients who need an affordable photography option that didn’t fit my business model.  So instead, I came up with a simple option using materials I already had on hand – a bulk lot of kraft favor bags and Thank You stickers.

Using items I already had meant this new option was free for me (except the cost of the USB), but I knew my stash of materials would eventually run out and I wanted to have my brand represented like I did with the CD covers.  So I picked up some circular labels and designed a “Thank You” message with my logo that I can still print at home.

My customers who have received the new packaging have all really liked it.  The pack of labels only cost me $10 and will provide about 100 labels so with the kraft bags I bought in bulk, it only cost me about $0.25/packaging.

I originally purchased the bulk lot of kraft bags in three patterns a few years ago on one of the daily bargain sites I follow.  I’ve used some for other projects before this so my inventory is limited but should still last a while.  In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for another bulk offer so I can replenish my inventory.

I’m pretty proud of the end result as it shows off my new branding and keeps cost down so I can continue to offer the rates my customers need.  I’d love to hear what you think of my low-cost DIY packaging option, so leave me a comment below!

From Lantern to Vase

The best thing about thrifting is that you often find pieces that can be reworked into something new.  Usually that involves a coat of paint or major altering of the original item, but every once in a while you stumble upon a super simple upcycle that requires barely any effort.  That’s exactly what happened with my new vase.  The mason jar style and the green tint to the glass are what caught my eye at the thrift store.  But it had a different purpose when I first saw it.

It was a lantern for a small votive candle!  I didn’t originally intend for it to be used as a vase but when the Hubs brought home flowers and I needed another large container for a second bouquet this new treasure was on the counter and the idea was sparked.  I simply pulled out the votive holder rack, filled it with water and plopped in the flowers.  That has to be the quickest upcycle ever – literally 30 seconds flat!

I kept the votive holder rack in case I ever want to use it that way again, but I see many more days as a vase with summer bouquets in it’s future! 🙂

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Flipping the Door

We recently made a very simple change in our master bedroom that had way more impact than we ever imagined.  We’ve wanted to flip the direction our bedroom door swings since we saw the model of our floor plan.  In fact, it was one of the two changes we requested of the builder, but by the time we noticed it hadn’t been done how we asked it was too late to change it before the final inspection because it would cover the light switches if we did.  So we lived with it for the past 3+ years.

It drove us nuts to have to come in and move the door to get to the closet every time we came home or pulled the hampers to do laundry.  It’s such a minor, trivial thing but it was an every day thing which made it seem even more annoying.  The Hubs decided he’d had enough and did some research online to figure out what he needed to do to swap the direction of the door.

He used a template he picked up at Lowes to chisel away the spots where the hinges would attach, starting with an outline of the spot and then creating slices he could work out little by little.

Soon he had three indented spots ready for hinges.  He also had to change up the hinge locations on the door itself so he took the door off and chiseled those areas too.  I was working on another project while he was doing this and occasionally held the door steady while he chiseled, so I don’t have any pictures of that step.  Once he had the new hinge locations prepped and swapped over the hardware we went from this….

…to this!  Look how much more open it makes the space feel!  Now the door swings back flush against the wall, leaving nothing blocking the entrance to the closet – just how we always wanted it.  We left the light switches right were they were because we rarely used them thanks to the remote for our overhead fan/light combo.  We also have switches for the overhead fixture by the bathroom door so we can always use that instead.  The Hubs relocated the holder for our light/fan remote to the open side of the door so we have easy access to that if we want to turn the light off as we leave or on as we enter.

Luna wasn’t too impressed with the change because behind the door was one of her favorite hiding spots, but she’ll just have to be upset because we love it.

We still need to paint over the old hinge locations to make them blend in, but it’s not a huge priority since you barely notice it.  We plan to leave the old indents on the off chance that SHOULD we ever sell this house the next buyer has the option to change it back – if they were crazy and wanted their life to be more difficult that is!

So there you have it.  One very simple change made the room feel twice as big – and pissed off the cat until she realized she can just hide in the closet instead. 🙂

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DIY Indoor Herb Planter

Continuing my willing of Spring to officially arrive in Alaska, I’m sharing the indoor herb garden we recently installed.  We love having fresh herbs to cook with and give the chickens during the summer and preserved some to continue using over the winter at the end of last season but nothing beats fresh, so I decided we should have an indoor garden just for that.  With that in mind we picked up these hanging containers and rods at IKEA on our last trip down south.

They are a perfect fit for this small wall in the dining room and as you can see, this spot gets good light from the window across the room.  The Hubs made sure to secure it to the studs since the plants will have a bit of weight.

For now I just have a few faux plants, also from the same stop at IKEA.  The local nurseries should begin offering herb starts within the next few weeks, but until then the fake stuff provides a bit of greenery.  Unfortunately I didn’t have enough to fill the large containers in the middle, but it still looks ok for now.

I’ll be creating some DIY plant stakes once I have our herbs selected.  I considered a few ready to purchase options I’ve seen in the stores but wanted them all to match and wasn’t seeing all the options I was considering which includes oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme.  I may try lavender in the larger containers just for the scent, but I’m not sure it would give the plant enough room to flower.

If anyone has used these containers with live plants I’d love to hear about how they worked for you.  I plan to water sparingly at first since there are no drainage holes (good thing since we’re indoors), but there are small trays at the bottom that would provide a place for water to collect below the dirt and the plant to reabsorb the moisture.  Hopefully that keeps the roots from getting soggy, but there may be a learning curve.  I’ll share the finished project when everything is planted and growing!